18. NEW THRONES FOR OLD

18. NEW THRONES FOR OLD

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
"

The late Dodson's grieving widow has a broken chair...

"

In the Northern village Maggida was making sure her dead husband Dodson was not forgotten be speaking sweetly to his memory while she toiled at her housework. And she made sure that the pretty young Tilde didn’t forget him either.

“He was a good man, was your father,” she said to her, “and our people are all the worse for his absence. You must remember him, darling, and revere him...”

“What is revere, mummy?”

Maggida smiled at her daughter. “It means remember with love for all time,” she said.

“Then I’ll revere him, mummy,” said Tilde seriously.

“If your father was alive he’d have repaired that old chair before I sat on it and it almost broke my back,” murmured Maggida, indicating the splintered wreckage of her favourite seat. “I must find a man keen with hammer and saw to fix it for me, for I never did find another chair with just the right height for my body.”

The door was knocked and Maggida opened it. Gymboy stood there, looking shy despite the power he was holding over the people and the success with which he had rallied them to the defence of their homeland, should the need arise.

“Why, Gymboy,” she said, smiling, “how are you with tools of the trade, for my chair is broken and I almost broke my back when it collapsed under me yesterday!”

“Maggida, they say I’m clumsy as an oaf!” he replied, and he examined the splintered wood and shook his head. “Not even an oaf would say he could do much about this,” he added thoughtfully, “for see: the wood has split along the grain and it finally fell to pieces when two knot-holes merged into one!”

“Then I guess I’ll have to find a man to make me a new one,” she sighed, “or roll my sleeves up and make one myself,” she added.

“I would offer, but, as I said, when it comes to such things as crafting wood into chairs I’m an oaf,” sighed Gymboy.

“Dodson made this one,” said Maggida, shaking her head sadly, “it was the first thing that he did after we became betrothed, before Tilde was born. And it’s been a good chair until yesterday when it almost broke my back. Hey, what’s the sudden commotion out there?”

There was an unusual burst of activity outside, and a voice was heard calling out,

“New thrones for old, new thrones for old, no matter what condition, new thrones for old...”

“What’s that?” asked a confused Maggida, and Gymboy shook his head.

“New thrones for old? Someone’s having us on! What would anyone round here want with a throne, new or old?” he asked, half to himself and half to Maggida.

“It is someone come to taunt us,” muttered Maggida, “I sense it in the roses blowing from nowhere through our door...”

“I will see,” decided Gymboy, and he looked out of the door.

An old woman was pulling a covered cart which creaked under the weight of whatever it had hidden on it. She must be eighty if she’s a day, thought Gymboy as he beheld the lines on her face and the wrinkles on her ancient neck.

Her cart looked to be as old as she was. Made of splintered wood and with iron-clad wheels with at least three wooden spokes missing or broken, it lurched along whenever she pushed it. And push it she did, flexing her muscles and seeming to almost gasp for breath.

On the side of the cart, just about smeared to oblivion with mud and the debris of the road. was the message ANGEL THRONES AND CHAIRS and underneath, in a small font that was barely legible, the words FOR KINGS AND QUEENS

Angel?” asked Gymboy as the old woman paused outside the home of Maggida, “who’s angel?”

It’s an ancient name for an ancient cart,” replied the old woman, theatrically wiping her brow, “but an old woman must earn her keep somehow, and I purvey thrones. Would you like a new one? Polished timbers of the finest sort and inset with pure silver and gemstones...” Then she seemed to spot Maggida standing behind the younger Gymboy.

Maybe for the lady,” she said quietly, “maybe in memory of a loved but lost one… and a right powerful throne it might be, if only you had a chair to offer me in exchange. Then the throne would be yours, polished wood, silver and all. Just for the price of a broken old chair that nobody wants to mend...”

My own chair broke only yesterday,” sighed Maggida, “but it is a cruel taunt for an old woman to offer something that sounds as though it were of great value, because my chair, broken as it is, has no value at all.”

It is I who decides the worth of things,” replied the old woman, “if it is not too much trouble, pray, bring forth your chair, that I may examine it and place a value upon it.”

But as I said, it is worthless,” Maggida tried to explain, “and it would be an offence against you for me to show you even a splintered leg of it.”

A splintered leg? You say a splintered leg? You tease my appetite, young woman, you make me salivate in expectation. Please humour an old hag and show me the chair so that I may place a value on it.”

Go on,” urged Gymboy, “for you need somewhere to sit when your infant is weary on your knee.”

Fetch it, then, Gymboy,” muttered Maggida, “for I am ashamed to do so.”

You are such a fair creature, and so sensible,” smiled the old woman of the cart. “It is rare that I come across such a splendid and generous young woman in my long journeys through the land. And they are long, I must tell you, long and arduous...”

Then she lifted up her head and called out, “New thrones for old!” in a voice that was surprisingly youthful for one so obviously ancient.

Here,” said Gymboy, bringing out the smashed parts of Maggida’s old chair. “Firewood, that’s all it is, and not worth much as that, either.”

But the old woman gasped and clapped her hands in joy.

Ah, you are so wrong, young man!” she said querulously, “it is the most spectacular chair I have ever seen! It is worth a thousand golden thrones, for it is the seat of a queen. And not just any queen, either, but a powerful queen with a good heart and bright eyes… Are you telling me you wish to exchange this wonderful chair for the dreadful old throne I have on my cart?”

Old woman,” said Maggida, shyly, “if you value my old chair so much then you can keep it, for to me it has no value. But I expect nothing in return for it.”

I have a worthless throne,” smiled the old woman, “and you may have it in full exchange for your marvellous chair. Here, let me help you!”

And she pulled the cover off her ancient cart, and behold, under it was a throne with the most magnificent polished timbers shining in the weak winter sunlight, and polished silver sparkling on it, and gemstones of all hues shining like stars in a distant night sky.

This is yours,” she said to Maggida, “for all time. And after you, for your offspring, should they want it, and down many generations to a future none of us can foresee. For you are queen here, of the men and women, children and infants, and all the lands between the old lost creek and the distant sea...”

And, with unusual strength for such a seemingly frail old woman, she hauled the mighty throne from her cart and carried it into the humble cottage where Maggida still lived.

You’ll have a palace one day,” she said, “I can feel it in my waters. But until that day you must sit on this throne and gain its power. You are queen of all you survey, which is right and proper since your man was so wretchedly slaughtered...”

And with no more ado and no further words she returned to her cart and pulled it away with her, slowly even though it must have been a great deal lighter than it was had been hitherto.

Who are you?” called Maggida after her, and the old woman’s voice came back to her on a rosy breeze, “They call me Angel, those who are good of heart, purveyor of thrones” she replied, and laughed loud until she was well out of sight.

© Peter Rogerson 04.12.18



© 2018 Peter Rogerson


My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

134 Views
Added on December 4, 2018
Last Updated on December 4, 2018
Tags: Thrones, chairs, breakage, polished timbers, silver, gemstones, Angel


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing